Airbnb apologizes for slave cabin for rent in Mississippi | airbnb

Airbnb publicly apologized after it allowed a property owner to list an “1830s slave cabin” for rent in Greenville, Mississippi.

In a TikTok video that went viral, a New-Orleans civil rights and entertainment lawyer, Wynton Yates, criticized the listing, saying: “The history of slavery in this country is constantly denied and now it’s being mocked by being turned into a luxurious vacation spot.”

The listing, which has been taken down, described an “1830s slave cabin from the extant Panther Burn Plantation to the south of Belmont”. At one point, more than 80 enslaved people lived on the property.

The description continued: “It was moved to Belmont in 2017 and meticulously restored over the course of a year. All of the wide cypress boards are original to the first build in the 1830s while the 1850s beadboard in the bathroom is from a later remodel which included new windows and new doors with their fancy hinges.

Yates, who is Black, said: “Maybe you’re thinking… this will give insight on how enslaved people had to live, their living conditions. No, not at all.”

By Wednesday, his video had racked up more than 2.6 million views.

Yates went on to show screenshots of the listing, which featured a four-poster bed, sunlit and tiled bathrooms, large wooden dressers and folded towels.

“How is this OK in somebody’s mind to rent this out – a place where human beings were kept as slaves – rent this out as a bed and breakfast,” Yates asked.

The listing had a 4.97-star rating and had 68 reviews, many of which were positive.

“Memorable. Highly recommend watching the sunset,” wrote a user named Katie.

Another guest, Peter, said: “We stayed in the sharecropper cabin and ate in the main house. The house tour was great and so was the breakfast.”

Another user, Kristin, wrote: “Enjoyed everything about our stay. The cottage, the history, the tour, breakfast, all of it was great and made for a perfect stop on our cross-country trek!”

Victoria Lynn wrote: “We stayed in the cabin and it was historic but elegant. The bed was very comfortable. [T]he cabin was stocked with everything we needed plus more. The location is just far enough from town where you felt like you were stepping back in history.”

Airbnb issued an apology and said it was “removing listings that are known to include former slave quarters in the United States”.

A spokesperson, Ben Breit, told the Guardian: “Properties that formerly housed the enslaved have no place on Airbnb. We apologize for any trauma or grief created by the presence of this listing, and others like it and that we did not act sooner to address this issue.”

Breit said Airbnb was “working with experts to develop new policies that address other properties associated with slavery”.

The property owner, Brad Hauser, told the Washington Post it was the “previous owner’s decision to market the building as the place where slaves once slept”, noting that the building had also been a doctor’s office.

Hauser, who is white, told CNN: “I am not interested in making money off slavery.

“As the new three-week owner of the Belmont in Greenville, Mississippi, I apologize for the decision to provide our guests to stay at ‘the slave quarters’ behind the 1857 antebellum home that is now a bed and breakfast. I also apologize for insulting African Americans whose ancestors were slaves.”

Hauser said he did not plan to rent out the property again.

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